Business

Global innovation spotlight: South Africa

Global innovation spotlight: South Africa

Global Innovation Spotlight

South Africa Innovation Facts

Global Innovation Index ranking: 61

Climate targets: Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Sustainability issues:

Water
scarcity
– In 2018, Cape Town came perilously close to ‘Day Zero’ – a media-friendly
term for the point at which four million city inhabitants would have been left
without water. The city has since recovered from this acute crisis, and new
measures have been put in place. Yet water scarcity remains a key challenge in the
country. Another city, Nelson Mandela Bay, is today facing acute water
shortages and risks approaching its own Day Zero.

Coal
burning
– South Africa is still heavily reliant on coal. According to
the most recent figures from Our
World in Data
, South Africa gets more than 70 per cent of its total energy,
and more than 80 per cent of its electricity from coal. South Africa also has the
highest per capita CO2 emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Power supply – In addition to its reliance on coal, the electrical grid in South Africa faces issues of reliability. The country has faced rolling power outages since 2007, and the state-owned electricity company Eskom has forecast that there could be 61 days of ‘load shedding’ (scheduled blackouts) in 2022.

Sector specialisms:

  • E-commerce
  • Fintech and insurtech
  • SaaS

Source: Startup Universal

Three Exciting Innovations From South Africa

Photo source Pixabay

INSECT PROTEIN FOR LIVESTOCK DOUBLES AS ORGANIC WASTE DIGESTER

South African company Inseco has developed a range of insect-based proteins. The company uses black soldier flies—both fully grown and in the egg and larval stages—for human and animal food consumption, and as a main ingredient in a range of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The insects are also used as a sustainable palm oil replacement. On top of this the living flies eat everything from coffee grounds and pet waste, to offal and rotting produce – reducing the amount of organic waste going to landfill. Read more.

Photo source Umanoide on Unsplash

DEEP AI IMAGING DIAGNOSTICS HELP DOCTORS PRIORITISE CARE

Overwhelmed health teams can use all the help they can get. As COVID-19 cases continue to peak and trough in communities worldwide, other health problems are stacking up, creating backlogs of examinations and treatments. Medical technology company Envisionit Deep AI is using artificial intelligence to help caregivers diagnose patients more quickly. The company’s system RADIFY, is capable of reviewing x-rays, mammograms, and ultrasounds – prioritising patient cases according to probability of illness. Read more.

Photo source Plentify

A SMART ENERGY STARTUP REDUCES THE IMPACT OF ELECTRIC HOT WATER SYSTEMS

In South Africa, there are an estimated 5.4 million electric water heaters—known as ‘geysers’—in homes and public buildings. These geysers can drain up to 12 per cent of the operational capacity of the electricity grid at peak times. Startup Plentify is using smart technology to make electric water heaters more efficient, saving customers money, and relieving some of the burden on the electricity grid. Read more.

Words: Matthew Hempstead

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